How Long Does It Take To Become A Mortician?

Morticians are also referred to as undertakers or funeral directors. Planning funerals, filing legal documentation, and preparing the deceased’s body are just a few of their many responsibilities.

Although each state has criteria, all morticians must have a high school diploma. Most states also demand an apprenticeship, postsecondary education, and licensure. It normally takes three to four years to become a mortician.

Consider becoming a mortician if you appreciate helping people get through difficult moments in their lives and have an interest in science. 

Mortuary services assist people in selecting the most appropriate memorialization options for their loved ones, which may help them find solace and peace. 

It’s vital to consider the prerequisites needed to get started and the specifics of the profession before deciding whether being a mortician is the best career decision for you. 

In this post, we explain what a mortician does, how to become one, how long it takes to become one, the compensation and job outlook for the position, and we respond to some of the most popular inquiries people have about this career path.

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Who is a Mortician?

An individual who works in the funeral industry is referred to as a funeral director, undertaker, mortician, or mortician (in British and American English, respectively). 

These chores frequently include making funeral preparations, embalming the deceased, and burying or cremating them (although not directing and conducting the funeral itself unless clergy is not present). 

Funeral directors may occasionally be requested to carry out duties including dressing (in clothing typically appropriate for everyday wear), casketing (putting the corpse in a coffin), and cossetting (applying any cosmetic or substance to the best viewable areas of the corpse to enhance its appearance). The role of a funeral director might be either independent or at a funeral facility. 

What is a Mortician School Like?

The art and science of caring for the deceased and their loved ones are the main topics of degrees in either mortuary science or funeral services.

 In addition to significant technical instruction on various anatomical restoration or preservation techniques, these academic programs frequently integrate humanities and science courses that offer insight into death and grieving. 

According to Poul Lemasters, a funeral director, embalmer, and attorney in Ohio, psychology coursework at a mortuary school would focus on the grieving process, biology or anatomy lessons might examine the postmortem decomposition process, and chemical lessons might examine embalming fluids. 

According to Lemasters, general counsel for the International Cemetery, Cremation, and Funeral Association, “all the courses are connected to end-of-life.”

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Is Attending a Mortician School Worth it?

Not everyone is suited for a career in funeral services. A mortuary science degree, however, might be the biggest financial investment you could make in yourself if you truly want to help people during some of their most trying moments and want a position where you can make a significant impact. 

Degrees in mortuary science educate you more than just how to work with the dead. Although that is a necessary step in the process, you will also get a lot of knowledge about managing a business and providing the support that family members require. 

Funeral directors are frequently graduates of mortuary science programs. For many, working closely with people to carry out their final wishes, offer bereavement assistance, and organize life celebrations makes this a very rewarding career. But with this degree, you can also pursue alternative professional options. 

Whether you earn a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, you might think about working as an embalmer, a medical center specialist who prepares bodies donated to science, or at the business end of the industry. You can choose from a variety of various professional routes.

What Schooling Do You Need to Become a Mortician?

Complete a mortuary science degree 

Despite some employers’ demands for a bachelor’s degree, most states mandate that morticians possess at least an associate’s degree in mortuary science. 

Depending on the curriculum, this could take anywhere between two and four years. You might be able to choose a few supplemental classes rather than a full degree program if you already hold a college degree. In some states, you can work as a mortician without a degree. 

Even though those without degrees may be unable to obtain certifications for certain jobs, such as embalming or cremation, they can still help families in need.

Mortuary science associate’s and bachelor’s degrees provide you with the fundamental knowledge and abilities needed to excel as a funeral director by covering crucial commercial and scientific disciplines. 

You must also do an internship or a predetermined number of hours of practical training at a funeral home as part of your degree program. In a program in mortuary science, you might study the following courses as examples: 

  • Ethics 
  • Anatomy 
  • Physiology 
  • Chemistry\sMicrobiology 
  • Psychology 
  • Counseling\sFinance 
  • Embalming 
  • funeral law

 Acquire mortuary expertise through an apprenticeship 

One to three years of hands-on experience are needed to get certified as a mortician, and candidates typically complete this requirement through an apprenticeship. 

Mortuary science degree programs at colleges can frequently put you in touch with funeral firms looking to hire apprentices. Depending on your schedule and your state’s regulations, you can finish your apprenticeship while enrolled in college or after you graduate. 

You observe your mentor as a mortician’s apprentice to learn how to carry out mortuary duties. After that, you can practice under direct supervision to hone your abilities. Some states have particular guidelines for how many hours an apprentice must spend performing a given task, like embalming.

Obtain the necessary mortuary licenses and credentials. 

After gaining sufficient experience, you can become certified by passing a state-required licensure exam. 

The Funeral Service National Board Exam (NBE), which you take in addition to state exams, is administered by the International Conference of Funeral Examining Boards. Most states also demand a separate embalming certification for individuals who receive mortician licensure. 

There may be extra requirements set forth by some states and potential employers in addition to schooling, licensure, and apprenticeships. For instance, they can require you to pass a background investigation by the police, have a current driver’s license, present proof of up-to-date immunizations, and obtain first aid certification.

By passing further tests and earning certificates, you can improve your qualifications. For morticians looking to advance their abilities as arrangers and celebrants, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) offers additional training.

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Create a resume and cover letter that are pertinent. 

Prepare your application materials for a mortician position after obtaining the prerequisites. 

Ensure your CV highlights the experience and abilities you acquired throughout your internship and apprenticeship. List any extra commercial or administrative credentials that can help you or the funeral home. 

You can use your cover letter to explain why you’re passionate about helping others and how you plan to advance your career. Being a mortician also requires the right mindset to interact with those going through this difficult aspect of life.

Submit applications for jobs at funeral homes 

Start looking for job openings at funeral homes you are already familiar with, such as the ones that oversaw your internship or apprenticeship program. 

To find opportunities, create a letter of interest and distribute it to nearby funeral homes. You can also look for openings online. You might also consider taking on administrative or support roles at a funeral home or morgue. Once you’ve proven your abilities and passion, you can apply for promotions.

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How Long Does It Take to Become a Licensed Mortician?

Although each state has criteria, all morticians must have a high school diploma. Most states also demand an apprenticeship, postsecondary education, and licensure. It normally takes three to four years to become a mortician.

Normally requiring two years, an associate’s degree in mortuary science consists of about 70 semester courses encompassing business, mortuary administration, funeral counseling, and embalming theory. A practicum is part of the mandatory curriculum for some programs. 

Usually, bachelor’s programs last four years and call for 120 credits. The prerequisites for a bachelor’s degree may include biology, psychology, anatomy, and embalming chemistry, in addition to the courses in a two-year program.

Before issuing a license, most states demand an apprenticeship of one to two years under a licensed funeral director. 

The entire training period in states where an associate degree comes after the internship is usually three to four years. Kentucky mandates a three-year apprenticeship despite not requiring a mortuary college.

Most states require a one- to a two-year apprenticeship under a registered funeral director before granting a license. The full training time typically lasts three to four years in areas where an associate degree is awarded after the internship. Kentucky doesn’t require a mortuary college but does require a three-year apprenticeship.

How Much Does it Cost to Be a Licensed Mortician?

79 colleges in the US offer programs in funeral service and mortuary science. For the academic year 2021–2022, the average tuition and fees for those institutions’ Funeral Service and Mortuary Science programs are $4,770 for state residents and $11,491 for out-of-state students. 

The average pay for graduates of the Funeral Service and Mortuary Science program is $30,165 for an undergraduate certificate and $48,146 for a bachelor’s degree.

The average cost of tuition for institutions that offer funeral service and mortuary science programs for the academic year 2021–2022 is $11,491 for undergraduate programs and $22,572 for graduate programs. 

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Salary and Job Outlook for Morticians After Study?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates good prospects for anyone looking for work as a mortician, including a 4% increase in job growth, particularly if relocating and obtaining certification are feasible. In May 2020, the federal government gave the best wage potential at $81,840, while the average mortician salary was $59,000.

In May 2021, the typical yearly salary for funeral home managers was $74,000. The wage at which half of the employees in a profession made more money than that amount and half made less is known as the median wage. The bottom 10% made less than $42,260, while the top 10% made more than $135,660. 

In May 2021, the typical annual salary for morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors was $48,950. The bottom 10% earned less than $29,640, while the top 10% made more than $83,550.

Job Outlook

Funeral service workers’ total employment is expected to increase by 8% between 2021 and 2031, faster than the average for all occupations. 

Over the next ten years, there are expected to be, on average, 7,900 new job openings in the funeral care industry. Many of those positions are anticipated to be brought on by the need to replace workers who change careers or leave the workforce due to retirement. 

The fun funeral service personnel will be required to help the growing number of persons prearranging end-of-life services. Consumer preference for cremation, which is less expensive and requires fewer personnel than traditional funeral arrangements, will limit this demand. 

Funeral home administrators are anticipated to assist families and loved ones with the death care process and organize end-of-life celebrations, although most cremations still entail a memorial service or funeral.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the length of training to become a mortician?

In states without postsecondary education or apprenticeship requirements, you might be able to get a job right out of high school and get on-the-job training.
A certified mortician can be attained in around three years with an associate’s degree and practice in a state that requires one year of apprenticeship experience. You could become a mortician in about six or seven years if you decide to earn a bachelor’s degree or work in a state with longer apprenticeship requirements.

Do morticians remove organs?

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether or not organs are removed during the embalming process. No, the organs do not leave the body during the embalming procedure. In contrast, the embalmer makes tiny abdominal incisions and places tubes inside the bodily cavity.

Is working in the funeral industry a good career choice?

A mortician does some of the most satisfying labor ones can undertake, although it can occasionally be emotionally difficult. Funeral directors offer assistance and attention when people need it most. Of course, a career in morgue work is not for the weak of heart.

Are morticians difficult to become?

Although being a mortician demands a significant amount of commitment and work, the rewards are well worth the effort.


If you have the correct interests and traits, becoming a mortician can be a fulfilling professional choice. You might be able to find a job right out of high school and get on-the-job training in states that don’t mandate apprenticeships or higher schooling.

In around three years, you can become a certified mortician if you obtain an associate’s degree and work in a state that needs one year of apprenticeship experience. 

You may become a mortician in about six or seven years, depending on whether you pursue a bachelor’s degree or work in a state with longer apprenticeship requirements.


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